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On This Day: May 7

Aviation events for May 7

1927: VARIG is founded as the first Brazilian airline.
1936: Amy Mollison lands at Wingfield Aerodrome, Cape Town, South Africa, to set a new record of 3 days, 6 hours, 26 minutes for a flight from England.
1937: The first successful pressurized airplane cabin is achieved in the Lockheed XC-35.
1956: National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) announces the start of a new research program and a new airplane, the Lockheed U-2. This was the first public acknowledgement of the existence of the U-2. The NACA announcement listed, high altitude research, air turbulence studies, connective cloud tests, wind sheer testing, jet stream research, cosmic rays studies, ozone and water vapor studies. All this research happened much later. The U-2 was a spy plane, the research projects were just a cover story. (Q)
1960: The Soviet Union exposes an American cover-up about the status of a USAF Lockheed U-2 spy plane that was shot down over Russia six days prior. Assuming the aircraft was destroyed and the pilot killed, the US said a weather recon aircraft was lost, added NASA titles to a different airframe for media photos, and said the aircraft reported problems with oxygen before disappearing. Russia then came forward, adding information previously held back, that the pilot had survived and much of the spy aircraft was intact, proving the American scheme. Pilot Frank Powers would be returned to the United States in February of 1962.
1964: Pacific Air Lines Flight 773 crashes in San Ramon California after a suicidal passenger shoots both pilots in-flight. Francisco Gonzales, having financial and marital problems, purchased a .357 Smith & Wesson revolver and even notified friends and family that he’d be dying on May 6th or May 7th. He purchased a $105,000 insurance policy at Stockton Airport (SCK) before boarding the Fokker F-27 Friendship (N2770R) bound for Reno, Nevada. A few minutes after reaching their assigned altitude of 5,000ft, a sound is heard on the radio and the aircraft disappears from radar. The final transmission is determined by investigators to be the First Officer saying “Skipper’s shot. We’ve been shot. I was trying to help.” All 44 on the aircraft perish. The daughter of the the Captain, Julie Clark, goes on to become one of the first female airline Captains herself for Hughes Airwest and Northwest Airlines, and then going on to become an aerobatic pilot.
1979: Air France is the first airline to operate the Lockheed L-1011-500, a long-range version of the TriStar with shorter fuselage, more powerful engines, and improved aerodynamics.
1981: Austral Lineas Aereas Flight 901, a BAC-111 (LV-VOX) crashes 9 miles out on approach to Buenos Aires-Jorge Newbery Airport in Argentina. While in a holding pattern over the Río de la Plata, the aircraft succumbs to a violent thunderstorm, killing all 31 onboard after crashing into the river.
1984: The Pilatus PC-9, a low-wing tandem-seat turboprop training aircraft, makes its maiden flight.
1986: Aircraft designer Al Mooney dies at the age of 80.
1990: Air India Flight 132 catches fire on landing at Delhi-Indira Gandhi International Airport in India. An improperly installed fuse pin on the #1 engine on the Boeing 747 causes a fuel line to rupture after the reverse thrust is activated on landing. All 215 people on the aircraft escape with their lives, although the aircraft is completely destroyed.
1991: The brand new Space Shuttle Endeavour, built to replace the destroyed Challenger, arrives at Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop a NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft.
2000: Asteroid 2000 EH26 had a Near-Earth Flyby (0.041 AU).
2002: China North Airlines Flight 6163, a McDonnell Douglas MD-82 (B-2138) crashes into the bay near Dalian, China, after a passenger sets fire to the cabin. The man is said to have terminal cancer, and purchased seven insurance policies worth $1.4 million for himself just prior to boarding the flight, where he uses gasoline snuck onto the aircraft into a water bottle. The fiery crash kills all 112 people aboard, who die mostly from carbon monoxide inhalation.
2005: Aero Tropics Air Services Flight 675 crashes into the side of a mountain while on approach to Lockhart River Airport in Australia, killing all 15 occupants. The Swearingen SA.227DC Metro 23 (VH-TFU) strikes the ridge at a height of 1,200ft, well below the minimum safe altitude of 2,060ft, and is blamed on the crew not noticing their AGL (above ground level) altitude and increased descent rate.

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